Better Call It A Fight Back

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'You know your problem mate?'   Matt said in his Aussie twang as we were heading back towards Sydney.

'You don't want it enough, you paddle like a pussy' 

He was right, I did.

You see the surf was pumping, lips throwing, the locals had the spot dialled and the sharks, well let's just say they were always in your mind - not at the back, right at the forefront. It's a memory that will always stick with me, my good buddy - a ripping local, had called me out on something I had always known but didn't want to admit. 

I was intimidated. 

That moment changed my time in Australia, from then on waves came my way, I paddled in to the heavy sets - I learned to get barrelled. The thing is it's easy to say you want it, you can even trick yourself into thinking you want it. You can get away with living that lie for years. 

The time out of climbing, purely surfing, had kept my body strong and as such the return to the sport, after all this time, felt easy.  

Don't call it a comeback I announced.  My body felt great, I could still campus 1-5-7 not long after my return and my back two still loved to feel those Beastmaker pockets.  

It felt too easy. 

Even the dieting and early starts to work on my core every day felt easy, too easy. It needed to come to an end, I needed to be taught a lesson. I needed someone to call me out.  

In the end my own body called me out.  

If my elbow injury hadn't occurred I could have continued training steadily, easily getting back in to climbing - pretending I wanted it. But climbing and particularly the act of completing projects takes an incredible commitment. You need to know you want it before you set out or you'll never get it done. 

My elbow made me realize I want it. Working on rehab alongside modified training. Feeling the pain in my arm as I wake, up even earlier to add rehab exercises to my core workout. It would have been easy to go back to surfing, forget climbing again. But the knowing that I am still pushing on, makes me realize this is more than a come back - this is a fight back and I want it more than ever.

Neal Mann

New York City

Editor